INTERNATIONAL LL.M. PROGRAMS: VILNIUS UNIVERSITY FACULTY of LAW, VILNIUS, LITHUANIA
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Vigita Vėbraitė, thank you for taking the time for this interview. GHK.
GHK: Assoc. Prof. Dr. Vėbraitė, considering that law is increasingly called upon to respond to challenges posed by the global legal environment, what do you think is the value of an international LL.M. from Vilnius Law for a graduating law student or lawyer from Turkey? What makes attending Vilnius Law a unique experience?
VV: First of all, I would like to say that students, who graduated from Vilnius University Faculty of Law, get a Master in Law diploma and not an LL.M. diploma. That means that students or lawyers from Turkey, after successfully finishing our program “International and European Law,” will get a master’s degree diploma from an EU Member State. Our program is also quite unique because of its flexibility. Students are pretty free to choose subjects in which they are interested, and all the studies are divided into blocks; students do not study many subjects at one time.
GHK: I understand that Vilnius Law has updated its Master of International and European Law program with various tracks. Could you explain to us why Vilnius Law has decided to update its former program — previously named Master of International and EU Law? What do you feel are some of the strongest LL.M. tracks within this updated program?
VV: Yes, last year, our faculty decided to reshape our English language study program, and we introduced three tracks in the program Master of International and European Law. We believe the studies in tracks make the program even more flexible and better adjusted to new challenges to the law. Students are free to choose in which field of law they are most interested. There are three unique and strong tracks: International Law and Human Rights, Tech Law & Business Law.
As you understand, the International Law and Human Rights track is mainly devoted to international public law, and students apply the main concepts of international law when carrying out their in-depth analysis of lawsuits, as well as to systematically analyze the subjects and the sources of international law and practice of significant courts acting in this context. Tech Law track aims to develop the ability to analyze and assess the regulatory debates pertinent to each group of emerging technologies and gain a systematic view of how innovations are reshaping different branches of law. Finally, the Business Law track is devoted to students who are interested in international private law and European company law.
In each track, there are compulsory and elective courses. Notwithstanding the track, all students study two required courses – Global Law and Legal Ethics, also International Dispute Resolution. We decided that these two subjects are essential for all tracks. Lecturers in the program are academics or practitioners from Lithuania and Belgium, Germany, Poland, and other countries.
GHK: Could you briefly describe some of the qualities that an ideal candidate for the LL.M. program at Vilnius Law might have? Is there a particular profile of LL.M. applicants that you think would successfully secure admission at the Vilnius Law’s LL.M. programs?
VV: Different persons with different motives are welcomed in our program. The most important is that they would already have a Bachelor of Laws or equivalent qualification of a jurist from higher education institutions. I believe that a person who wishes to study abroad should also be ready to learn in a multicultural environment and be open-minded and creative.
GHK: Could you please explain the weight or emphasis given to each part of a student’s application, such as GPA, language score, a letter of motivation, and letters of recommendation?
VV: Proficiency in English is required to ensure proper participation in lectures, workshops, and seminars. The proficiency level should not be lower than B2 (IELTS 5.5+, IBT TOEFL 65+). The requirement does not apply to those who have graduated from the studies delivered in English. Also, at least two references should be provided. More information about the documents can be found on our website.
GHK: Could you offer any general advice regarding letters of recommendation? Who would be the best person to write an LL.M. applicant’s recommendation letter?
VV: Different persons from academia or legal practice can write recommendations. It would be great if one recommendation would be from someone who supervised the student’s research papers during bachelor’s law studies. The main aim of such letters is to obtain better knowledge about the applicant and their potential.
GHK: What do you look for in a letter of motivation? Could you offer applicants from Turkey any advice regarding writing the letter of motivation?
VV: The letter of motivation should include the student’s motives for choosing to study at Vilnius University and the reasons for choosing one of the program’s tracks. The letter of motivation should consist of such information about the candidate, which usually could not be found on the CV or describe the applicant’s extra-curricular activities.
GHK: Being a non-European applicant from Turkey, how would one find suitable scholarships for studying in Lithuania and, in particular, at Vilnius Law?
VV: The are some tuition fee waivers and scholarships offered by the Lithuanian Government, Vilnius University, or the Law Faculty. More information could be found on our website. The most suitable scholarship for applicants from Turkey is Vilnius University Tuition Fee Waiver for Full-time Master Degree Studies. All students of Vilnius University can also apply for different scholarships during the study period if learning outcomes are excellent.
GHK: Are scholarships available to cover living costs for a non-European applicant from Turkey?
VV: Usually, scholarships for students from foreign countries cover only tuition fees, but there are several social scholarships at Vilnius University.
GHK: If one had an LL.M. degree from Vilnius Law, can one be a practicing lawyer in Lithuania? What further steps would a foreign lawyer have to complete to become a practicing lawyer in Lithuania?
VV: Legal profession in Lithuania is highly regulated. To be a practicing lawyer in Lithuania, a professional must have citizenship of the EU Member State, complete the internship as an assistant of the lawyer, and pass a bar exam. However, after completing the Master’s degree studies, foreigners can work in sectors that do not require a Lithuanian lawyer. Also, it must be mentioned that international students with a Master in Law can pursue an academic career in Lithuania and abroad in continuing their studies in the Ph.D. program.
GHK: What are the job opportunities for a non-European in Lithuania or Europe who has earned an LLM from Vilnius Law School? What would be the outlook for the next few years considering the economy affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
VV: I believe legal studies or methods of legal professionals are affected by the pandemic but not the job opportunities. As has been already mentioned, persons with Master in Law from Vilnius University are welcomed in national and international companies, international institutions.
GHK: Thank you for taking the time to speak with us, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Vėbraitė. Anything you would like to add for the Turkish law graduates reading this article?
VV: Vilnius University Faculty of Law would be happy to welcome more students from Turkey. Life in Vilnius is dynamic, but it is also simple and easy to manage, guaranteeing an excellent study-life balance. Hope to see you in Vilnius!